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There are a number of significant economic ideologies currently practiced by governments all over the world. Obviously, the most popular ideology is capitalism, which is characterized by private ownership of property and the means of production and each individual is responsible for their own lives.
Socialism is another significant ideology that promises to transform government systems and create a world where fairness and prosperity for all is guaranteed. In spite of its inspiring promises, socialism continues to be viewed with suspicion by many governments and citizens who express doubts about its ability to work. This paper will argue that socialism could work with significant benefits for the entire society.
Socialism: A Definition
Ludwig (2009) defines Socialism as “a policy which aims at constructing a society in which the means of production are socialized” (p.20). Socialism advocates for the abolition of the private-enterprise economy favoured by capitalism and the establishment of a system where public ownership maintains a dominant position in the economy.
Why Socialism can Work
Socialism will lead to a more sustainable community characterized by low poverty rates. High government involvement and a huge welfare system will lead to greater distribution of wealth among the citizenry. Citizens of many developed nations are beginning to acknowledge that the capitalistic system is unsustainable.
Problems such as starvation and homelessness are being experienced by the richest countries in the world due to a lack of emphasis on social services. Socialism is characterized by an emphasis on provision of social services by the government. Galbraith and Ludmila (2004) document that this crucial services decrease the mortality rate and increase the standards of living for the citizens.
In a socialistic society, the government in exchange for high taxation guarantees pension, housing, and healthcare. Norway, a country that leans to socialism, enjoys very low poverty rates and unemployment rates compared to countries that are primarily capitalistic such as the US. Socialism can work in the current environment where poverty levels are rising and unemployment rates are increasing in most countries.
Socialism can work since it provides a feasible way to deal with the gross inequalities that the world currently faces due to capitalism. Citizens in both developing and developed nations all over the world are experiencing growing income disparities that are increasing the divide between the rich and the poor.
These social injustices can be blamed on an exploitative capitalistic system that rewards the capital owners at the expense of the labour providers (Schwartz & Schulman 2000). Socialism is the most favourable system for the working class who make up the majority of the population in all countries. The socialism system insists that the worker should play a bigger role in the decision making process in the industry.
By doing this, the worker will play an active role in the community and therefore address the imbalances that exist due to the capitalistic system which has made workers inactive players in the industry. Adopting socialism will ensure that a fair system is adopted therefore bringing about social equality.
Socialism might work since it provides a means to amend the ills that society currently faces because of capitalism. Specifically, the system proposes to bring back an emphasis on important human values such as compassion and altruism (Ludwig 2009). Because of the individualistic nature of capitalism, these values have been all but destroyed with the emphasis being placed on making a profit no matter the human cost.
Socialism will bring back these human values since the system will emphasis on the collective well being of society members. This system will obligate people to put the interest of others ahead of their own and work towards the common interest. It is conceivable that once people see the advantage that
A Case against Socialism
Opponents of socialism argue that this system would result in a significant reduction in production since people would not have a strong motivation to put direct their energies towards optimal production. A major concept of socialism is that the economy should be run to meet the needs of the majority and not to enrich a few individuals (Busky 2000).
This collectivist ideology would be very demoralizing since persons will not be justly rewarded for their individual efforts. However, this argument is based on presumptions as opposed to absolute facts. Socialism does not encourage laziness as can be deduced from the socialist principle, which declares “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work” (Busky 2000, p.115). It can therefore be expected that people will continue working hard even in an economic system that favours public ownership.
The wealth and advancement currently enjoyed by the world can be credited to the capitalistic system. For this reason, policy makers and citizens fear that a socialism system will lead to a decrease in wealth creation and advancement. This fear is not unfounded since historically, countries that practice capitalism have experienced greater growth than those practising socialism (Ludwig 2009).
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Private ownership is therefore regarded as the foundation of economic growth and advancement. However, public ownership does not necessarily lead to poor economic performance as can be seen from the case of China, which has experienced monumental economic growths over the last 2 decades in spite of having a system that is characterized by centralized planning and majority public ownership (Ludwig 2009).
In spite of all the many merits of socialism, capitalism has continued to gain significant support in countries all over the world. While detractors of socialism might see this as a suggestion that a socialistic society would not be feasible, this is not the case. Molyneux (2009) reveals that most people raised in capitalistic societies have been conditioned to view socialism with suspicion and react unfavourably to it.
People assume that socialism is synonymous to a charity state where people refuse to work and instead rely on government handouts. The discussions presented in this paper have demonstrated that socialism does not necessarily result in reduced production. Instead, the system encourages equal distribution and overcomes the many social injustices heightened by capitalism.
This paper set out to argue that the socialism system could work in the world today with significant benefits for everyone. It began by offering a definition of socialism and proceeded to state some of the reasons why the socialism system can work. Socialism will offer a solution to the harms caused by capitalism and lead to a more equitable society.
The paper has also reviewed some of the arguments against socialism and offered rebuttals to the same. From this paper, it is clear that socialism can work in the modern world. However, for this to happen, people need to be educated on what socialism entails in order to remove the many misconceptions and prejudices that most individuals in capitalistic societies have concerning socialism.
Busky, DF 2000, Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey, Greenwood Publishing Group, New York.
Galbraith, J & Ludmila, K 2004, ‘The Experience of Rising Inequality in Russia and China during the Transition’, The European Journal of Comparative Economics, vol. 1, no.1, pp. 87-106.
Ludwig, M 2009, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Frankfurt.
Molyneux, J 2009, ‘Socialism can Work’, Socialist Review, <http://socialistreview.org.uk/332/socialism-can-work>.
Schwartz, J & Schulman, J 2000, Towards Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice.